Common names: Firebrat, Silverfish
Scientific name: Order Thysanura, family Lepismatidae. Silverfish--Lepisma saccharina, Firebrat--Thermobia domestica
Size: Adult--1/4" to 3/4"
Identification: Slender, flattened, wingless, segmented, silver-gray and black, covered with scales. End of abdomen has three tail-like filaments. Firebrats are very similar but much darker.
Biology and life cycle: Very primitive insects that are nocturnal and fast-moving. Can go long periods of time without food. Incomplete metamorphosis. Immature stages are similar to the adults. A segment is added with each molt. Nymphs take up to two years to reach maturity.
Habitat: Silverfish like cool places or warm, damp ones. Firebrats like warm, humid places. Both live indoors and outdoors under stones, in caves, in debris, and in ant nests.
Feeding habits: Feed on starchy materials like glue, flour, damp textiles, book bindings, and wallpaper paste. Also dry meat, oats, paper products, waste materials, and decaying plant and animal matter.
Economic importance: Common pest in homes and libraries that causes book and document damage. They are beneficial in the wild.
Natural control: Spiders.
Organic control: Indoor control is all that is ever needed. Natural diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and plant oil products.
Insight: Considered living fossils, silverfish are older than dinosaurs--at least, that's what we read.